X González (born Emma González; November 11, 1999) is an American activist and advocate for gun control. As a high school senior they survived the February 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history, and in response co-founded the gun-control advocacy group Never Again MSD.
November 11, 1999
|Education||Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School|
New College of Florida
|Occupation||Activist · student|
González gave a viral speech against gun violence, proclaiming "We call B.S." on the lack of action by politicians funded by the NRA. Subsequently, González continued to be an outspoken activist on gun control, making high-profile media appearances and helping organize the March for Our Lives. Speaking at the demonstration, González led a moment of silence for the victims of the massacre; they stood on stage for six minutes, which they observed was the length of the shooting spree itself.
Early life and education
González was raised in Parkland, Florida; a suburb of the Miami metropolitan area. Their mother is a mathematics tutor and their father is a cybersecurity attorney who immigrated from Cuba to New York City in 1968. They have two older siblings.
González graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the spring of 2018. They served as the president of its gay–straight alliance. In high school, González was also the tracking team leader on Project Aquila, a mission to send a school-made weather balloon "to the edge of space"; the project was documented by fellow student David Hogg. They enjoy creative writing and astronomy but not mathematics.
On the day of the shooting, González was in the auditorium with dozens of other students when the fire alarm went off. They attempted to exit through the hallway, but were told to take cover and took refuge back in the auditorium, where they were held for two hours until police let students out.
"The people in the government who are voted into power are lying to us ... And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and are prepared to call B.S."
"We Call B.S." speech at the Rally to Support Firearm Safety Legislation
On February 17, 2018, González gave an 11-minute speech in front of the Broward County Courthouse at a gun control rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The speech was in reaction to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, three days previously, during which a gunman had killed 17 and severely injured many more.
In the speech they pledged to work with their peers to pressure lawmakers to change the law. "We are going to be the last mass shooting," González proclaimed. "That's going to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas in that textbook, and it's all going to be due to the tireless efforts of the school board, the faculty members, the family members and most importantly the students." The speech notably featured a call and response: "We call B.S.," in response to gun laws, calling for advocacy and empowering young people to speak out against school shootings. The speech then went viral. According to The Washington Post, González's speech became emblematic of the "new strain of furious advocacy" that sprang up immediately after the shooting.
In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, González said they felt their message would resonate through repetition. "I knew I would get my job done properly at that rally if I got people chanting something. And I thought 'We call B.S.' has four syllables, that's good, I'll use that. I didn't want to say the actual curse words... this message doesn't need to be thought of in a negative way at all."
Subsequent activism and media appearances
They and other survivors spoke with Florida state legislators in Tallahassee on February 20, 2018. The students watched the legislature vote down debate on an existing gun control bill.
The students also spoke at an internationally televised town hall hosted by CNN on February 21, 2018. González and others criticized the National Rifle Association (NRA), as well as politicians who accept money from it, as being complicit in the shootings and stated that "you're either funding the killers, or you're standing with the children."
At the town hall, González pressed an NRA representative to clarify their position on guns. "Dana Loesch, I want you to know that we will support your two children in the way that you will not," González said at the town hall. "The shooter at our school obtained weapons that he used on us legally. Do you believe that it should be harder to obtain the semi-automatic and... the modifications for these weapons to make them fully automatic like bump stocks?" Loesch answered González by arguing that mentally ill people shouldn't have access to weapons. González interjected and noted that they hadn't answered their question. "I think I'm gonna interrupt you real quick and remind you that the question is actually, do you believe it should be harder to obtain these semi-automatic weapons and modifications to make them fully automatic, such as bump stocks?" Shortly after their viral speech and high-profile media appearances, González joined Twitter and acquired more than 1 million followers within a span of less than ten days.
González continued to speak out against gun violence. Glamour Magazine called González "the face of the #NeverAgain movement" and "a recognizable icon" while The Washington Post called their "La nueva cara of Florida Latinx" ("The new face of Florida Latinx") and drew comparisons to the revolutionary José Martí. NBC News called their "one of the most visible student activists to emerge from the shooting..." In a nationally televised interview on 60 Minutes, González described the idea of arming teachers in classrooms with guns as "stupid." In March 2018, González was on the cover of Time magazine along with fellow activists Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, and Alex Wind. That same month they were profiled by France 24.
Speech at March for Our Lives
González and other students, including fellow Parkland survivors Hogg, Kasky, and Sarah Chadwick, organized and participated in the nationwide March for Our Lives protest on March 24, 2018, with a focus on speakers and a march in Washington, DC. González spoke for six minutes, the length of time of the Parkland shooting, and paid tribute to the victims by mentioning each one by name and giving examples of things they would never again be able to do. They followed this by several minutes of silence. González was interviewed on MSNBC at the march, stating people needed to "empathize rather than feel apathy" and calling for young people to register to vote.
In March 2018, the Florida Legislature passed a bill titled the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. It raises the minimum age for buying firearms to 21, establishes waiting periods and background checks, provides a program for the arming of some teachers and the hiring of school police, bans bump stocks, and bars potentially violent or mentally unhealthy people arrested under certain laws from possessing guns. In all, the law allocates around $400 million for implementation. Rick Scott signed the bill into law on March 9. The governor commented, "To the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you made your voices heard. You didn't let up and you fought until there was change."
In May 2018 González met with James Shaw Jr., a man who prevented further bloodshed at a mass shooting in a Waffle House restaurant by rushing the attacker and taking away his AR-15 rifle and saving more lives; both Shaw and González described each other as heroes.
Attacks and conspiracy theories
González was attacked for their Fort Lauderdale speech by many from the political right wing of American politics and press. They have also faced derogatory comments made by internet trolls about their sexual orientation, short hair, and skin color. They were verbally attacked by Leslie Gibson, then the Republican candidate running unopposed for the Maine legislature and lifetime NRA member, who referred to them as a "skinhead lesbian", whereupon 28-year-old Eryn Gilchrist filed papers to run against him, thus providing an opponent; Republican former state Senator Thomas Martin, Jr., who said that Gibson's remarks did not represent the Maine Republican Party, and that he planned to contact the survivors to commend their courage, also filed to run for the seat. A few days later Gibson himself dropped out of the race.
González was the target of a number of far-right conspiracy theories and hoaxes since the shooting. Conspiracy theorists have falsely accused the students, including González, of being crisis actors. Benjamin Kelly, an aide to Florida state Representative Shawn Harrison (R-63), was fired after making such accusations. Donald Trump Jr. faced criticism for appearing to support the crisis actor accusations. The conspiracy theories spread about González and other Parkland survivors were named PolitiFact's 2018 Lie of the Year.
Following their highly publicized speech at the March for Our Lives, pro-gun activists doctored fake photos and video showing González ripping up a copy of the United States Constitution, spreading them widely on internet forums and social media. Snopes.com observed that the video was in fact a digitally manipulated Teen Vogue video of them tearing up shooting range targets. Adam Baldwin defended spreading the fake video, saying it was "political satire."
Attacks by Steve King and response
Republican congressman Steve King attacked González for wearing a Cuban flag patch on their jacket during their speech, saying in a post on Facebook, "This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don't speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self defense." The Cuban flag worn by González was adopted in 1902, fifty years before the communist take over, and has been used by anti-Castro Cuban exiles as a symbol of patriotism. One of the survivors of the Orlando nightclub shooting, Brandon Wolf, responded to King saying "When it was my community, where were you? When it was Sandy Hook? Columbine? Were you on the sideline mocking those communities too? Did you question someone identifying as a mother? Did you question whether people like me were crisis actors?" and "Emma stood for 6 mins and 20 seconds to honor the lives of 17 gone too soon. The least you could do is shut your privileged, ineffective trap for 6 seconds to hear someone else's perspective." In an interview with the New Civil Rights Movement, Wolf also pointed out that King keeps a Confederate flag on his desk.
King's comments generated fierce condemnation from Wolf, González, and other members of Never Again MSD. In June 2018, as part of the March for Our Lives' "Road to Change" tour, gun control advocates and members of Never Again MSD arrived at King's office in Sioux City to protest against King. Protesters and gun control advocates berated King for his history of racially charged statements and attacks; González personally denounced King and accused him of racism. King largely ignored the protests.[why?]
González is bisexual and uses they/them pronouns. According to Vogue, their buzz cut is not a reaction to the school shooting, but rather to Florida's climate. "People asked me, 'Are you taking a feminist stand?' No, I wasn't. It's Florida. Hair is just an extra sweater I'm forced to wear," González recalled. "I even made a PowerPoint presentation to convince my parents to let me shave my head, and it worked." In May 2021, González announced the usage of a new personal name, X, citing dissociation with their previous personal name and feminine pronouns.
- "Parkland Student Emma González Opens Up About Her Fight for Gun Control". Harper's Bazaar. February 26, 2018.
- "Opinion: A Young Activist's Advice: Vote, Shave Your Head and Cry Whenever You Need To". The New York Times. October 5, 2018.
- "Emma González on Why This Generation Needs Gun Control". Teen Vogue. March 23, 2018.
- @cameron_kasky (May 5, 2018). "Livestream with @Emma4Change and @John_Barnitt!!! Answering questions" (Tweet) – via Twitter. (At 1:10 "11/11 baby!" in regard to their birthday and at 13:30 "I'm 18. I can vote. I wish my Wikipedia page said that I was 18 because I am.")
- Zac Anderson (February 27, 2018). "Parkland student, now a prominent gun control activist, will attend New College". Herald Tribune. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- Horton, Alex (February 18, 2018). "Advice from a survivor of the Florida school shooting: It's time to start ignoring Trump". The Washington Post.
- "Florida student Emma Gonzalez to lawmakers and gun advocates: 'We call BS'" (Includes video and transcript). CNN. February 17, 2018.
- "Florida survivors to march on Washington". BBC News. February 18, 2018.
- Bailey, Jason M. (February 18, 2018). "Emma González Leads a Student Outcry on Guns: 'This Is the Way I Have to Grieve'". The New York Times.
- Witt, Emily (February 19, 2018). "How the Survivors of Parkland Began the Never Again Movement". The New Yorker.
- "National Rifle Assn". OpenSecrets.
- "The Parkland Students: The World's 100 Most Influential People". Time. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
- Lowery, Wesley (February 21, 2018). "Emma González hated guns before. Now, she's speaking out on behalf of her dead classmates". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- Aradillas, Elaine (February 20, 2018). "How Emma Gonzalez' World Has Changed Since the Mass Shooting In Her School". People.
- Bonmatí, Damià; Toral, Almudena; Arroyo, Lorena, eds. (February 17, 2018). "Emma Gonzalez: la súbita nueva estrella del movimiento antiarmas es una adolescente de 18 años de origen cubano". Univision (in Spanish). Retrieved February 25, 2018.
- Valys, Phillip (February 17, 2018). "Who is Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School?". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
- Eltagouri, Marwa (February 20, 2018). "A lawmaker's aide called school-shooting survivors crisis actors. Within hours, he was fired". The Washington Post.
- Pearl, Diana (February 23, 2018). "Everything to Know About Emma Gonzalez, the Florida School Shooting Survivor Fighting to End Gun Violence". People. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- Cohen, Travis (February 19, 2018). "This Is What Righteousness Sounds Like: The Importance of Emma González". Miami New Times.
- Witt, Emily (February 18, 2018). "Calling B.S. in Parkland, Florida". The New Yorker.
- Feller, Madison (February 23, 2018). "Emma Gonzalez Shares the Story Behind Her Moving "We Call B.S." Gun Reform Speech". Elle. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
- Pasquini, Maria (February 26, 2018). "Parkland Student Surpasses NRA in Twitter Followers Less Than 2 Weeks After School Shooting". People. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
- "Madonna Shares Powerful New Song 'I Rise' Featuring Sample of Stoneman Student Emma Gonzalez: Stream It Now". Billboard. May 3, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2019.
- "Parkland student: Politicians accepting NRA money are against shooting victims". Axios. February 19, 2018. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
shooting survivors Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg returned to the air ... to advocate for gun control legislation and blame the NRA as well as politicians who accept money from the organization....Gonzalez: 'You're either funding the killers, or you're standing with the children'
- "Transcript: Stoneman students' questions to lawmakers and the NRA at the CNN town hall". CNN. February 22, 2018. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
- Williams, David (February 27, 2018). "Parkland shooting survivor Emma González has more Twitter followers than the NRA". CNN. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
- Nussbaum, Rachel (February 23, 2018). "Emma González Says 'Baldies Get the Job Done' With an Empowering Video". Glamour.
- Morales, Ed (March 1, 2018). "Perspective | Emma González: La nueva cara of Florida Latinx". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
- "'Skinhead lesbian': GOP candidate attacks Parkland teen Emma Gonzalez". NBC News.
- Valys, Phillip (March 16, 2018). "Stoneman Douglas student Emma Gonzalez calls arming teachers 'stupid' on '60 Minutes'". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
[González:] If the teacher dies [and] a student who's a good student is able to get the gun, are they now held responsible to shoot the student who's come into the door? I'm not happy with that.
- "Parkland Students On Cover Of Time Magazine". Houston Public Media. Associated Press. March 22, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018., Note: cover third week March 2018; "...The cover features Marjory Stoneman Douglas students Jaclyn Corin, Alex Wind, Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky and David Hogg,...."
- "Parkland shooting: Who is Emma Gonzalez, the teen activist against gun violence and the NRA?". France 24. March 22, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
- Aggeler, Madeleine (February 20, 2018). "Change Never Happens Until Young People Like Emma González Demand It". The Cut.
- Andone, Dakin (March 24, 2018). "Emma Gonzalez stood on stage for 6 minutes – the length of the Parkland gunman's shooting spree". CNN. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
- Ryan, Lisa (March 24, 2018). "Emma González's March For Our Lives Speech Lasted As Long As the Parkland Shooting". The Cut. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
- "Emma González: People need to 'empathize rather than feel apathy'". MSNBC. March 24, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
- Sweeney, Dan (March 7, 2018). "Florida House sends Stoneman Douglas gun and school bill to Gov. Scott". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- Sanchez, Ray; Yan, Holly (March 9, 2018). "Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs gun bill". CNN. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
- Terence Cullen (May 13, 2018). "Waffle House hero James Shaw Jr. meets with Parkland shooting survivors". New York Daily News. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
... Shaw posted a photo of himself with Gonzalez on Saturday, saying he "met one of my heros today." ...
- Rabin, Charles (February 20, 2018). "Parkland students face new attack, this time from the political right on social media". The Miami Herald. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
- Wilson, Jason (February 20, 2018). "How rightwing media is already attacking Florida teens speaking out". The Guardian.
- "Shooting survivors endure new assault – from online trolls". WBNS-10TV Columbus, Ohio. February 22, 2018. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- Ryan, Lisa (March 15, 2018). "Politician Who Insulted Parkland Shooting Survivors Gets New Opponent". The Cut. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
- Brammer, John Paul (March 13, 2018). "'Skinhead lesbian': GOP candidate attacks Parkland teen Emma Gonzalez". NBC News. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
Fogg, a Democratic organizer ... said, "That sort of stupidity really turns people off." Fogg ... hopes someone will jump into the race to challenge Gibson.
- Collins, Steve (March 16, 2018). "Maine House candidate who insulted Florida teens drops out of race: Leslie Gibson had been under fire since making online comments calling one Florida shooting survivor a 'skinhead lesbian' and another a liar". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
SABATTUS — Controversial Republican candidate Leslie Gibson ... insulting several teen survivors of the Florida school shooting, is abandoning his effort to win a state House seat this year.
- "Beleaguered Leslie Gibson abandons state House race, seeks 'peace and quiet'". Lewiston Sun Journal. March 16, 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- "Emma Gonzalez did not rip up the US Constitution". @politifact. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
Gonzalez 18, has been the target of many conspiracy theories since the Feb. 14 shooting
- Eltagouri, Marwa (February 20, 2018). "A Florida lawmaker's aide called school-shooting survivors 'actors.' Within hours, he was fired". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
- Phillips, Kristine (February 22, 2018). "'Your brain is not functioning': Jimmy Kimmel rips Parkland conspiracy theorists and Trump Jr". The Washington Post.
- Holan, Angie Drobnic; Sherman, Amy (December 11, 2018). "PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: Online smear machine tries to take down Parkland students". politifact.com. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
- "Was Emma González Filmed Ripping Up the U.S. Constitution?". Snopes.com. March 26, 2018. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
- Danner, Chas (March 26, 2018). "People Are Sharing Fake Photos of Emma González Tearing Up the Constitution". New York. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
- "Rep. Steve King's campaign ties Parkland's Emma Gonzalez to 'communist' Cuba". The Washington Post. March 26, 2018. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
- Vazquez, Maegan (March 26, 2018). "Steve King's campaign criticizes Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez". CNN.
- Levesque, Brody (March 26, 2018). "Exclusive: Pulse Massacre Survivor Blasts 'Bigot' Steve King for Racist Attack on Emma González". The New Civil Rights Movement.
- "Emma Gonzalez criticizes Steve King at Sioux City rally". The Gazette.
- "Emma Gonzalez Is Protesting Iowa's Steve King. Here's Why". Advocate. June 21, 2018.
- "Emma González (@emmawise18) • Instagram photos and videos". www.instagram.com. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
- Van Paris, Calvin (February 22, 2018). "Emma González Shares Why "Baldies Get the Job Done" With an Empowering Twitter Video". Vogue. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- Perkins, Chris (May 11, 2021). "'Call me X': Survivor of Parkland shooting has picked out a new name". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
- "X González's March for Our Lives Documentary Made Sundance Film Festival History | Tonight Show". YouTube. May 11, 2021. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
I really don't want people who don't know me assuming that they do know me because of the national narrative, or international narrative, that exists about me.